For the first time in a decade, Tony Romo will be available, but not starting, for the Cowboys. Romo has fully practiced the past two weeks, and is ready to go after sustaining a compression fracture in his lower back Aug. 25. Romo will be Dak Prescott’s backup, an important role, but not the one most expected to see Romo play this season.
The run game
The Cowboys have the NFL’s No. 1 rushing attack. The Ravens are the league’s best at stopping the run. The Cowboys have risen to the challenge so far against the run defenses they’ve faced, and must do so again against the Ravens. Ezekiel Elliott has already surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark, averages 112 yards per game, and shows no hint of slowing down the stretch.
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The Cowboys have played two consecutive games without a takeaway. That’s unacceptable for defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. The defense has to get its hands on more balls. Safety Byron Jones couldn’t corral a fumble that bounced right in his hands last week. But the takeaway department has been better than a year ago. This season’s Cowboys have 10 takeaways – one fewer than their total all of last season.
The Cowboys had one sack last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, courtesy of DeMarcus Lawrence. They have only 19 on the season. The Ravens don’t have a great offensive line and Joe Flacco is far from elusive. This should be an opportunity for the Cowboys to add to their total.
The Cowboys finally seem to have their act together at home, winning three consecutive at AT&T Stadium, where their longest streak ever is five. To keep this run, the Cowboys will have beat the Ravens for the first time in franchise history. The Ravens are 4-0 all-time against the Cowboys, winning in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012. The Cowboys hold the dubious distinction of being the only NFL team that has never beaten Baltimore.